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Newport Jazz Festival






Newport Jazz Festival Lineup 1969




Program and festival lineup courtesy of


Ticket stub courtesy of Peter Nolan Smith




*Note: if you were there and would like to share your memories, pictures or tape please send it


Posted by Peter Nolan Smith


On July 6, 1969 my older brother and I drove from the South Shore to Newport to see the Sunday show of George Wein's Jazz Festival.

It was a sunny day and we arrived around 10. Parking was tough and I stuck our VW Beetle on the edge of a Little League field.

Thousands of hippies and young people were thronging to Festival Field. Our tickets cost $3.50.


Dave Brubeck opened the afternoon with his oratorio LIGHT IN THE WILDERNESS.

Around 2pm Nipsy Russell warmed up the crowd for James Brown

Everyone groaned, as the emcee introduced him.

We had only seen him on WHAT'S MY LINE.

No one was prepared for his off-color blue performance.

He told a joke about fucking bald-headed twins.

The pot-smoking audience begged for mercy.

Our ribs were stitched by paroxysms of laughter.

After an hour Nipsy gave up the stage for the Godfather of Soul.

Hippies gave up their arm waving and danced to the black soul of the JBs.

James Brown ended his two-hour performance with PLEASE PLEASE ME.


There was a small intermission and then the evening began the Latin bop of Willie Bobo followed by the Herbie Hancock Quartet.

BB King rocked the night with his guitar Lucille and Johnny Winter joined him for a duet of scorching guitars.

Buddy Rich's Orchestra warmed up the crowd for the final act.


Led Zeppelin.

They took their time taking the stage.

Jimmy Page was sick.

Rumors crisscrossed through the audience.

The show was to be cancelled.

After an hour the band hit the stage.

Jimmy Page later said, "You donít blow a date like this one. Not after all that. The Newport Jazz Festival was far too important to us to just cancel out and Iím very upset at the whole thing.

Wein should never have announced one of us was ill.Ē

They blew us away.

Here's Zeppelin tuning.

And what about HOW MANY MORE TIMES

We left during this song.

My brother wanted to beat the traffic.

We heard the bass line miles away.

I hear it now too.

But I still laugh at Nipsy Russell's joke about bald-headed twins.

And I can't remember it at all.




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